British Gas-owner Centrica has blamed a 20% rise in wholesale costs for a second price hike to its standard variable tariff (SVT) for domestic customers.

The company’s SVT, which closed to new customers on 31 March, will increase by 3.8% from 1 October, adding £44 to an average dual fuel bill to take it to £1,205.

The increase comes on top of a 5.5% rise announced in April.

Mark Hodges, Chief Executive of Centrica’s consumer arm, said: “We understand that any price increase adds extra pressure on customers’ household bills.

However, this reflects the sharp rise in wholesale energy costs.In response to rapidly rising wholesale market costs, since April a number of other energy supply companies have increased their SVT prices and Ofgem have also announced a second increase to the prepayment meter cap.”

‘Infuriating’

Alex Neill, consumer group Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said: “This second price rise within the space of a few months will be infuriating for customers who have now seen their bills hiked by an average of £104 in six months.”

Rik Smith from price comparison website uSwitch added: “British Gas’ standard tariff was already one of the most expensive tariffs on the market.

“There’s now a feeling that British Gas is hiding behind Ofgem’s prepayment price cap increase, to hike its own prices again.”

> See Centrica's statement